Defining Agreements


S3 promotes a hypothesis-driven approach to decision making

Agreement Life-Cycle

Pattern 6.1: Agreement

An agreement is an agreed upon guideline, process or protocol designed to guide the flow of value.

  • agreements are created in response to drivers
  • agreements are the accountability of the people that make them
  • agreements are regularly reviewed

Note: In S3, guidelines, processes or protocols created by individuals in roles are treated as agreements.

Template for Agreements

Pattern 6.2: Develop Strategy

A strategy is a high level approach how people will create value to successfully account for a domain.

  • an organization, group or role keeper develop their own strategy
  • a strategy often includes a description of the intended outcome
  • as the delegator shares accountability for the domain, it’s valuable they review the strategy, identify potential impediments and suggest improvements
  • strategy is a shared agreement between delegator(s) and delegatee(s) that is regularly reviewed and updated as necessary (pivot or persevere)

Strategies are implemented and refined through experimentation and learning.

Pattern 6.3: Clarify Domains

A clear understanding of people’s area of accountability and autonomy enables greater efficiency, effective collaboration and agility throughout the organization.

A simple way to clarify domains is with a domain description that contains:

  • primary driver
  • key responsibilities
  • constraints
  • evaluation criteria for peer review
  • term (for a role)
  • (previous versions)

Domain descriptions can be created for a role, position, circle, team, open domain, department, unit, or the whole organization.

You can either start by clarifying existing domains, or at least clarify new ones.

Pattern 6.4: Intended Outcome

  • a concise description of the expected result of an agreement, action, project or strategy
  • specific Evaluation Criteria and metrics can be helpful for reviewing the actual outcome

Pattern 6.5: Describe Deliverables

A deliverable is something which is provided as a result of an agreement in response to a driver. Deliverables include products, raw materials, services, experiences and transformations.

In the context of an agreement, clearly describing deliverables supports shared understanding:

  • include the necessary amount of detail
  • reference other documents when helpful or necessary

Explicitly defining deliverables can be useful for improving:

  • organizational strategy
  • circle strategy
  • development plans
  • domain descriptions
  • any other agreement (e.g. business goals, process policy, customer communication)

Pattern 6.6: Evaluation Criteria

Well-defined evaluation criteria can help to understand whether or not an agreement has had the desired effect.

  • go for simple and unambiguous criteria and document them (to avoid discussion when reviewing your agreements)
  • define actionable metrics to continuously track effects and spot deviations from intended outcomes

Pattern 6.7: Logbook

A logbook is a (digital) system to store all information relevant for running an organization and its teams. The logbook is accessible to all members of an organization, and information is kept confidential only when there is good reason to do so.

Common platforms for logbooks are Wikis (e.g. Dokuwiki or MediaWiki), Content Management Systems (e.g. WordPress), G Suite, Evernote or Trello etc.

Logbook Contents

  • Organization:
    • primary driver, strategy and organizational values
    • organizational structure (domains and connections)
    • agreements
  • Circle:
    • circle description and strategy
    • agreements (including delegatees’ domain descriptions, strategies and development plans)
    • backlogs and other information relating to a circle’s work and governance
  • Personal logbooks
    • domain descriptions, strategies and development plans
    • governance and operational backlogs for roles
    • decisions related to delivering value in a role

Pattern 6.8: Logbook Keeper (Role)

The logbook keeper is accountable for maintaining a circle’s logbook by:

  • recording details of agreements, domain descriptions, selections, evaluation dates, minutes of meetings etc.
  • organizing relevant information and improving the system when valuable
  • keeping records up to date
  • ensuring accessibility to everyone in the circle (and in the wider organization as agreed)
  • attending to all technical aspects of logbook keeping

Read next: Focused Interactions

© 2017 by Bernhard Bockelbrink, James Priest and Liliana David. Licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0